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What a day. Today I had a few errands to run, an appointment at 2 pm and finally dinner with my cousins and midnight mass. What a joke! You plan, and plan, then at a simple stroke, everything goes out the window.
I planned my day carefully, giving myself enough time to run all my errands and get to my 2 o’clock appointment in good time, so thought to leave the house at 12 noon, so even if I got early to the 2 o’clock appointment, it’s at a coffee house so I could just wait.
The weather today is very muggy and close, but I thought that it would clear up. Never mind, I won’t let that affect my optimistic mood and bubbling enthusiasm. I got ready and left the apartment, got into the car, turned the ignition and nothing happened. Just as I was trying to understand what was going on with my car, a healthy looking middle aged man approached me asking for money! What? I couldn’t help myself, I just raised both hands in the air in supplication to God to help me out. This seemed to have affected the beggar deeply, for he started giving me advice, that prayer is good and will get the car going. I looked at him stunned. He must have misread my expression for he continued to nod and urge me to prayer.
Finally the garage guy and the porter realized that I was having car problems, came over, shooed the beggar away, very efficiently produced a cable, another car and jump started the two month old, still under guarantee, battery.
All my plans changed. Instead of going on my errands, now I had a mission to reach the shop where the driver had bought the battery. The address was on the invoice, and I got a sketchy description of how to get there. So off I went on my merry way to explore the depths of Agouza. I got as far as they told me then started asking for directions. For once in my life I was given a straight answer, which turned out to be correct! I finally reached the shop, showed them the guarantee, the invoice and told them what happened. They opened the hood, fiddled about the battery with all sorts of equipment, I think gave the battery a battery ECG, then did a general MRI and diagnosed that there was an electric short circuit that was draining the battery. So they sent me off to a car electrician, further into the depths of the unknown. As directed, I bypassed another tyre shop and a meat kiosk before reaching my final destination, where I had to double park on a street that can barely take three cars. There I sat for nearly half an hour, wondering what could be wrong and will they muck up the whole electrical system of my car? Will I be able to get to my 2 o’clock appointment, or will my whole day go down the tube? So I text messages my 2 o’clock appointment about the situation and said will keep them posted of progress. Then finally one of the electricians was free to look at my car. Again with the ECG looking equipment, again with the solicitous bedside manner. Finally, the head surgeon was called in, and after a whispered conference, pronounced the diagnosis. Nothing wrong! Relief! Ok, what about the battery. He very kindly called the battery guy, told him my car was in excellent condition, and why not take another look at the battery. The battery guy said to tell me to try it for another couple of days and if it still gave me trouble, to go see him again. Ok. Now to try to get out to somewhere that looks familiar. I asked the electrician how to get out, he smirked and said, follow this trash truck, which I did, and true enough, was out of there in two minutes and onto one of the main streets of Mohandessine.
So no more errands now, straight to my 2 o’clock appointment, as I wasn’t even sure of the address. But strangely enough, it seemed the car took out the jinx, the traffic was great, the description of how to get there was perfect, and miracle of miracles, I found a parking space within walking distance of my final destination. I got there with half an hour to spare, ordered tea for my nerves, water to quench my parched mouth and a sandwich for my lunch. Found an ATM right there, took out some money, managed to open FB on the coffee shop’s wi-fi and settled down to wait for my appointment.
Once my business was concluded, I packed my stuff, got into the car, gave a short prayer and turned the ignition. It worked. The motor turned and I was on my way. Can anything be salvaged from my day? Well let me see. Yes. I was near one of the shops I wanted to visit, but was not quite sure where it was. Kept going and must have overreached, so parked the car and went in search for it on foot. Quite an adventure walking in this part of town. The pavements are a mile high and just stepping up on one is a great athletic feat, but I soldiered on. After asking directions, twice, and being given the same directions, twice, I finally reached my destination. Ran my errand then walked back to the car. I really felt much better now at having been able to accomplish at least one of my errands, despite my previous obstacles. The car was behaving very well and every time I turned the ignition the battery woke up and the motor purred into being. So back home with a tremendous sense of accomplishment. I got a diagnosis that the car was fine, the battery might be a dud, but the jury is still out on that, and I had fought traffic, overcame being lost and came out of a walk through a rather grotty place, unscathed, and what’s more, triumphant.
Back home I unwrapped my sandwich, toasted myself with the bottled water and sat down to chronicle my adventures in the big, dangerous city.
19 April 2014

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